Sensory Reverberations: Rethinking the Temporal and Experiential Boundaries of War Ethnography

This article explores the value of attention to sensory experiences in the study of conflict and war, and in particular those of the ethnographer herself when she has previously lived through war and violence. It is at once an invitation for greater sensitivity to auditory and olfactory dimensions in researching violence and a critical questioning of the perception of a limited temporality in the fieldwork experience. Living through war involves repeated encounters with violence and a prolonged ‘living-in’ its shadow. Every encounter with violence bridges different temporalities. The present moment, memories of past violence and concerns about their recurrence in the future – all create a sense of we-ness among subjects. The lived experience of war is cumulative; it etches its marks on its subjects’ souls and bodies, its impact varying as its subjects go through different life stages. It is also intergenerational as the individual experience of violence is often closely tied to the experiences of past generations and expectations for future generations.

 

Reference

Al-Masri, M. (2017). Sensory Reverberations: Rethinking the Temporal and Experiential Boundaries of War Ethnography. Contemporary Levant, 2(1), 37-48.